Your roof is a champ. It beats back the heat, withstands hail and snow, prevents rainwater from leaking into your home. Every day, your roof is faced with a new combination of weather, raging elements, and fluctuating temperatures. Still as roofs are weathered and age, they become damaged–losing a shingle here, leaking there, which may result in a potential roof repair.
Roof repairs can be tedious and expensive, especially when the problem or damage has been allowed to fester. Untended leaks can invite mold into your home, and lose shingles can be symptomatic of a greater structural issue. Sometimes, our roofs seem to be so subtly damaged that it comes as a shock when a costly roof replacement is deemed necessary.
Wouldn’t it be nice if your roof could just tell you when it’s damaged? Well, here’s some good news: your roof does tell you. You simply have to look.
As a homeowner, familiarizing yourself with your roof can dramatically decrease costly repairs and increase the longevity of your roof. Doing simple roof maintenance tasks not only helps you catch a problem in the early stages of damage, it also helps prevent damage from ever occurring. We’ve got five ways you can easily maintain your roof, reduce your overall roof costs, and help your roof live a long and healthy roof.
1) Perform a Total Evaluation of Your Roof
What material is your roof made of? How old is it? Who repaired it last, and why was it repaired? Has it ever been replaced? When? It can help to compile a little folder on your roof that includes all of this vital information. It is important to track work done to your roof as past issues can be symptomatic of future problems. Furthermore, it is important to track how certain repairs impacted your roof in the long-run so you can make more informed maintenance decisions in the future and avoid a costly roof repair.
Knowing the age and status of your roof can help you make an educated decision should damage occur. A brand new roof that is leaking may simply have a gutter issue, whereas an old roof that is leaking may be harboring a more profound issue. Though you should check both young and old roofs for the same issues, older roofs are more prone to certain problems, such as rusting, cracking, and mold. When an old roof is displaying these symptoms, a roof repair or a total roof replacement may be considered.
Part of knowing your roof is checking it frequently, especially during change of seasons. You want to intimately know the status of your gutters, your flashing, your shingles, your vent pipes, etc. Understanding the current status of your roof will help you spot trouble early on. You want to know what healthy looks like for your roof so when signs of damage start appearing you can easily identify them.
2) Consistently Clear Away Debris
Your roof already shoulders feet of fallen snow, barrages of hail, and screaming winds–it shouldn’t have to fight the elements while being burdened by debris. Help your roof protect you by actively cleaning away debris.
Debris often collects in your gutters and the valleys of your roof. Clogged gutters can cause a draining issue that leads to rusting and leaks. Clogged gutters can also jeopardize the integrity of the gutters themselves: the constant strain and overflowing water can unfasten your gutters, exposing vulnerable parts of your roof and further inhibiting drainage. Cleaning your gutters ensures your roof properly drains.
Debris collected in the valleys of your roof also creates a draining obstruction. Not only does the debris itself add unnecessary weight to your roof, but it can cause pooling of rainwater or snow, furthering straining your roof and risking buckling. When water pools, it also promotes growths of mold, moss, and rot.
You can clean debris by hand, with a leaf blower, or even with a soft broom or brush. The key is to remove the debris gently, without applying unnecessary force.
Note: Do not scrape any part of your roof or utilize a pressure-washer: both of these methods will only further damage your roof.
3) Remove any Moss
Moss grows easily in wet and humid climates, as well as in the shade and on hard surfaces… Essentially, your roof is the ideal place for moss growth.
Though it might not seem sinister at first, moss growth can cause incredible damage to the integrity of your roof. Moss will infiltrate beneath your shingles for extra shade and then grow, expanding and pushing-up your shingles. As the shingles are pushed up, rain water gets, causing leaks and rotting your decking. With the shingles flared upward, they’re more susceptible to being torn off in the wind. Furthermore, if you happen to have asphalt shingles (the most common roofing material of homes across America) moss will actually wear down the shingles themselves, accelerating the breakdown of your roof.
Moss also creates better traction for debris, causing your roof to hold onto debris that would otherwise slide off with rain. With the combined collection of moss, debris, and rainwater or snow, the buildup on your roof is sure to cause rotting or leaking.
There are a wide variety of roof cleaning products that are available to you. Some are sprayed onto the roof where it breaks down the moss chemically, and then the residue is left to be washed away in the rain. Others require the roof to be washed, where the chemical is spread across the roof and then the moss is brushed away with ease.
Note: Do not scrape moss off of your roof or use a pressure washer: both of these methods cause unnecessary wear on your roof, causing your shingles to break, crack, tear, and lose their vital granular surfaces.
4) Don’t Neglect Your Attic
In your attic, it may be easier to spot certain issues with your roof, such as leaking. Keeping an eye out for dark spots on your attic walls and ceilings can help you catch a leak in the early stages, preventing the water from festering and mold from growing. You can also easily look for missing shingles or any other kind of exposure by scanning the attic ceiling for daylight, a sign your roof has thinned or has a hole.
On top of checking the physical integrity of your roof, you want to also check your attic insulation. Ensuring your attic is properly insulated can better maintain the health of your roof. For instance, in the winter, an under-insulated attic will cause heat to escape. The escaped heat then melts any standing ice or snow that is then refrozen as temperatures drop. This constant cycle of freezing and thawing can impede drainage and cause water to permeate your roof.
By checking your attic, your checking the vulnerable underbelly of your roof. Knowing the health of your attic will help you more accurately diagnose the needs of your roof.
5) Schedule Regular Maintenance with a Roof Repair Contractor
Hiring a Northern Virginia roof repair contractor to check on your roof ensure you have a roofing expert overseeing the status of your roof.
A local roof repair contractor will know the finer details of roofing damage and roofing structure. A professional will know what to look for. When a professional sees a problem with your roof, (one a layman may not have taken notice of) he/she will be able to determine the cause and provide you an immediate solution. A professional roofing contractor is like a guardian angel for your roof.
Furthermore, working on roofs can be dangerous. If, for whatever reason, you are uncomfortable ascending your roof, play it safe and call a professional. Something as a minimal as a once-a-year inspection by a professional can dramatically reduce risk of roof damage, and subsequent a costly roof repair.
Also, should an issue arise with your roof, you’ve already developed a relationship with the contractor. Having a professional intimately know your roof, it’s age and history, means that your repairs and maintenance will be more precise and effective. When you have a roofing contractor familiar with your roof, and consistently checking your roof, you are protecting your roof from larger, more invasive, roof repair and possible roof replacement.